Israel Forever

For the week ending 31 May 2008 / 26 Iyyar 5768

The Consolation Prize

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Whenever Jews are faced with troubles it is important to remember the lesson of the "consolation prize" which is often awarded to those who suffer.

One outstanding example is found in the census of our ancestors in the wilderness that is recorded in this week's Torah portion.

In his commentary, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (RaMbaN) takes note of the fact that the Tribe of Levi was far less in number than all of the other tribes. This seems strange in light of the special status that this tribe had as servants of Heaven.

One suggestion he makes is that all the other tribes were subject to oppressive bondage in Egypt that was calculated to reduce the Jewish birth rate. It was then that a voice from Heaven declared "You are trying to prevent them from having children and I say they will have children." The result was a miraculous birth explosion with Jewish mothers giving birth to sextuplets. Since the Tribe of Levi was not subject to Egyptian bondage their birth rate remained normal and therefore had a smaller population than those blessed with miraculous reproduction.

Just as there was a "consolation prize" for the suffering in Egyptian bondage, we can look forward to something similar that will increase the numbers and security of Israel forever.

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